Sephora is no slacker when it comes to digital innovation in-store and online. Now it’s embedding its tech expertise more firmly throughout the store with the debut of a new retail concept in Paris called Sephora Flash, which owner LVMH describes as a first of its kind connected beauty store.
As a pioneer in digital-first beauty retailing, Sephora continues to prioritize and improve on the customer experience through technology, as this high-tech boutique showcases.
The concept of Sephora Flash (also the name of its shipping version of Amazon Prime), which opened on Oct. 21st on the rue de Rivoli, bridges the gab between brick and mortar and an online shopping experience. The new store is significantly smaller, at around 100 sq. meters, than the average 400 sq. meter Sephora store.
As InStyle notes, “upon entering, you’ll be greeted by a tiny robot, which dispenses a card that serves as your ‘virtual shopping basket’ so you can combine your online purchases with anything you find in the physical store, and pay for everything at the cash register.”
The humanoid robot (Aldebaran Robotics’ Nao), as captured by Minter Dial in the video above, says: “Hello! I’m Nao, a programmable humanoid robot.” Dial adds, “This 23 inch tall robot has three different ‘speeches’ that are addressed, in French, to customers. Made by the French company, Aldebaran, for Nao and its bigger brother, Pepper, there are now 5,000 displayed commercial locations.”
The lack of physical space is balanced by a selection of best-selling products and a digital catalogue that lets shoppers choose from the more than 14,000 products (from 150 brands) on the Sephora website, merging the in-store experience with the digital channel in a Tardis-like move (it’s bigger on the inside!) Treating the physical store as a portal to the website could become the future of omnichannel retail and seamless, connected shopping.
The store is optimized for connectivity, and if the store does not have a desired product, customers can virtually add it, via a digital tag, to their basket. Customers can pay for both physical and digital purchases at the checkout counter and can choose to have online items delivered to home, office or pick them up in-store.
For fragrances, customers can learn more about the scents by placing a perfume tester equipped with a NFC (Near Field Communication) tag on connected screens, as employees with tablets roam the store. Sephora Flash will also have a Flash Bar, which features a large selfie mirror and mobile phone chargers.
In addition to popular Sephora services like the Make Up Bar or Benefit Brow Bar, customers can have fun at the Flash Bar, equipped with a large selfie mirror, a mobile phone charger and a Mini Beautic, the smart sampler developed in-house by the brand’s Sephora Lab, which Fast Company profiled earlier this year.
The digital innovation isn’t exclusive to Paris, by the way, as Sephora Flash concept boutiques are planned to pop up in France and beyond.